A year on from the last successful Somali pirate hijacking, the waters off Somalia remain a high-risk area for shipping warns the piracy watchdog the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
The last successful hijacking of ship and its crew for ransom by Somali pirates was on 12 May 2012 and according to IMB’s first quarter report there were just five attacks off Somalia in the first three months of the year.
However, the threat still remains and pirates did manage to takeover a fishing vessel in the first quarter, but were intercepted by naval vessels before they could bring it back to the Somali coast.
“We still consider the area high risk. We still warn ships to maintain extra vigilance. It is very dangerous,” Noel Choong, head of the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur told Seatrade Global.
Navy patrols have been successful in stopping pirate skiffs from getting out from the coast to attack vessels, however, if the pirates manage to evade the navy patrols the risk of a hijacking remains high.
“A lot of ships are still maintaining private armed security onboard the vessel. The pressure is still there for ships to take extra measures,” Choong said.
The drop in attacks is attributed to a combination of naval patrols, private armed security and the implementation of BMP4, best management practices by vessels transiting the area.
Meanwhile the IMB is increasingly worried about the situation in West Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. Choong said they were “very concerned about West Africa” as the growth in pirate attacks was showing the same pattern as that off Somalia a few years earlier attacking vessels further and further away from the coast.